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Faster, Longer Lasting SSD Performance: How Graid Technology is Changing the Game with GPU-Accelerated RAID

SupremeRAID™, designed to eliminate storage bottlenecks and unleash the full potential of high-speed NVMe SSDs, achieves unprecedented performance by offloading intensive parity calculations from the CPU to the GPU.

Published Tuesday, February 06, 2024 7:35 AM by David Marshall

For years, IT professionals have struggled with storage bottlenecks that prevent them from utilizing the full potential of high-speed NVMe SSDs. Traditional RAID solutions like hardware RAID cards and software RAID throttle performance significantly. But one company is eliminating those bottlenecks with an innovative solution.

Graid Technology, led by industry veterans, has developed SupremeRAID, a software-defined RAID technology that runs on GPUs rather than leveraging the CPU. By using NVIDIA GPUs as RAID acceleration engines, SupremeRAID provides a performance boost for mixed workloads often seen in the enterprise. And performance scales linearly with each SSD added to the array.

While at the IT Press Tour in January 2024, we met with Graid Technology SVP and GM of Americas & EMEA, AZ, India, Tom Paquette, who explained, “SupremeRAID eliminates the RAID bottleneck without taxing the CPU to deliver 100% SSD performance to applications, delivering on the promise of lightning fast SSDs, while boosting both throughput and longevity.”

By offloading the intensive parity calculations required for RAID from the CPU to the GPU, SupremeRAID achieves unprecedented performance for NVMe-based storage.

gpuraid

The Limitations of Traditional RAID

To understand why SupremeRAID can be considered revolutionary, it helps to examine the limitations of traditional RAID implementations. As Paquette noted, “Flash storage performance is evolving too fast to be fully utilized by existing storage architectures.”

Hardware RAID cards suffer significant performance degradation due to PCIe lane limits. As Paquette explained, “Hardware RAID products support up to 32 NVMe SSDs but cannot use all available performance. Hardware RAID delivers only 50% performance due to lane limits!” By aggregating all the SSD lanes into just 16 lanes to connect to the RAID card, hardware RAID squanders much of the SSD’s potential throughput.

Software RAID solutions also fall short, consuming 30-40% of CPU cycles for parity calculations. This leaves fewer CPU resources available for running important applications. Paquette noted that “During drive rebuilds, that can climb as high as 75%.” As flash storage speeds continue advancing faster than CPU performance grows, this problem only gets worse over time.

The SupremeRAID Transformation

SupremeRAID completely transforms this paradigm by utilizing the parallel processing capabilities of GPUs to accelerate RAID functionality. As Paquette summarized, “SupremeRAID is a software-defined solution on a GPU, so data doesn’t travel through the card.” This unique “out-of-path” architecture means SupremeRAID is not in the data path from the CPU to the SSDs. It eliminates shared-resource contention issues while unlocking game-changing levels of performance and scalability.

Extensive benchmark testing reveals large real-world advantages over competing hardware and software RAID solutions. Compared to a leading hardware RAID card from Broadcom, SupremeRAID delivered multiple times higher IOPS and sequential throughput, while also outpacing software RAID’s performance by even wider margins. During drive rebuilds, SupremeRAID maintained high levels of performance where hardware and software RAID slowed to a crawl. And by offloading RAID computations to the GPU, SupremeRAID reduced CPU utilization to zero percent versus software RAID consuming up to 75% of CPU cycles.

A few interesting numbers shared from a benchmark test of its SupremeRAID SR-1010 included:

graid-sr-1010-benchmark

SupremeRAID’s performance capabilities solve multiple pain points for enterprise and data center customers. By eliminating storage bottlenecks, it maximizes ROI from costly NVMe SSD investments. It also enables customers to meet demanding application requirements for real-time analytics, AI/ML model training, high-frequency trading, and other emerging use cases. As Paquette summarized, “Gone are the days of IO bottlenecks. SupremeRAID is the perfect platform for AI/ML, IoT, video processing, and other performance-hungry applications.”

Unique Product Capabilities

In addition to its high level of performance, SupremeRAID seems to provide certain capabilities not found in competing solutions. The SupremeRAID SR-1000 and SR-1010 cards each support up to 32 native NVMe SSDs in a single server while future-proofing customer investments. 

SupremeRAID also integrates seamlessly with NVMe over Fabrics, including FC, iSCSI, iWARP, RoCE, Infiniband, and TCP. By offloading RAID from the CPU to the GPU, SupremeRAID enhances performance for both NVMeoF targets and initiators.

For customers concerned about business continuity, SupremeRAID provides advanced high availability capabilities. Unique auto-failover functionality enables dual SupremeRAID cards to deliver no-interruption service during component failures – an industry first. Paquette explained it this way, “we have the capability for failover. I’d like to say we don’t need it. But you never know. That’s why it’s like insurance.”

Embracing the Data Center Ecosystem 

For any emerging technology product, working well with others is crucial for gaining user acceptance and market adoption. Graid Technology and its SupremeRAID solution integrate smoothly in today’s heterogeneous data center infrastructure. Beyond dependence on NVIDIA GPUs for number crunching acceleration, SupremeRAID supports most NVMe SSD brands and types with no proprietary lock-in. For hardware platforms, compatibility and significant performance gains have been validated on both major server CPU architectures from Intel and AMD, as well as ARM. Top server and storage manufacturers like SuperMicro are actively reselling SupremeRAID with their systems after extensive certification testing.

On the software side, SupremeRAID can handle all the most common operating systems, with support across Linux distributions such as AlmaLinux, CentOS, Rocky Linux, OpenSUSE, Ubuntu, Debian, Oracle Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Linux.  And of course, Microsoft platforms are represented as well, both Windows Server 2019 and Windows Server 2022, as well as desktop versions Windows 10 and Windows 11.

But where do they fit within a virtualized world?

SupremeRAID supports the following virtualization platforms: Proxmox VE, KVM, Windows Server Hyper-V, Virtuozzo Open VZ and VMware Workstation Pro 17. Yes, VMware ESXi support is noticeably missing. However, that may not always be the case. When asked about VMware ESXi support, Paquette said they have been working with VMware to do full VMware support. But with the recent changes since the Broadcom acquisition of VMware, we have to wonder if that partnership will continue since Graid is a direct competitor to Broadcom’s RAID offerings.

A lot of questions and fears materialized after the Broadcom acquisition of VMware, and Paquette acknowledged that some VMware customers are now looking for alternative platforms, noting “we’re having a lot of discussions around other virtualization platforms that we support, like Proxmox and Open VC, specifically in Europe on the CSP side.”

Looking forward to evolving storage memory hierarchy, aggressive plans are in place to support Computational Storage Drives (CSDs) and future NVMe over Fabrics implementations. Graid Technology’s willingness to play nicely with components already installed while opening new doors for the future has fueled its young product’s appeal.

Rapid Growth Trajectory

Since launching in 2021, Graid Technology has experienced explosive expansion, projecting over 475% year-over-year revenue growth from 2022 to 2023. Strong customer interest across verticals like media and entertainment, telecom, oil and gas, finance, healthcare, and more validate SupremeRAID’s game-changing value proposition.

Graid Technology also continues innovating at a rapid pace. Upcoming NVMe encryption, compression, thin provisioning, and new operating system support aim to further improve efficiency and flexibility. Closer OEM partnerships and an expanded global reseller network strive to make SupremeRAID ubiquitous in data centers worldwide. As Paquette stated, “The future is bright! Still hands down the performance leader… New OEMs and Tier 1 resellers are coming on board in 2024.”

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